Four Things to Avoid

disappointed boyLast month I mentioned Jennie Allen’s Bible study in Philippians using her book, Get Out of Your Head. This month, I’d like to talk about four things she says we should avoid. Discontentment. Disillusionment. Discouragement. Disengagement.

Any one of these four things can pull us off track from the mission God has for us, but when we don’t stop the thought spirals that send us downward instead of upward, for they tend to feed off each other. Then we’re in trouble.

According to Jennie, discontentment focuses energy on dissatisfaction with our circumstances or possessions or life stage. Left unresolved this becomes a complaining spirit without joy or gratitude.

Disillusionment is disappointment with the things of God and the people of God. Left unresolved it turns to bitterness and eventually, a cynicism and distrust of people and God.

With discouragement, doubt, fear, and criticism can come against us to the point of shutting us down.

Finally, disengagement is when our own insecurities or our disappointment in others cause us to pull back and isolate in order to protect ourselves.

These can each turn into deadly thought spirals. As much as we’d like to, we can’t curl up on our couches, read the pages of a book, pray, and simply will our minds to change. God is concerned not only with the posture of our hearts but also with the people on each of our arms. In terms of fulfilling our mission in this life, we can’t do anything worthwhile alone. Jennie Allen

Here are some choices Jennie says we can make which help fight the four things to avoid. Connection with others. Looking beyond our self and living intentionally in service to others. Shifting our thoughts from what we don’t have to what we do have and being grateful.

She goes on to say in order to see God’s good, we need to shift our focus beyond our immediate situations. When we cannot see how God could possibly bring anything good from our circumstances, we need to remember we can choose to praise and honor God right where we are, trusting we serve a God who is with us even in the hardest times.

If, like me, you struggle with some of these issues, and I believe it is safe to say we each do or have or will at some point in our life, I suggest you check out Jennie Allen’s Get Out of Your Head resources. You can view her teaching videos on You Tube, if you’d like.

Are any of these four things to avoid: discontentment, disillusionment, discouragement, or disengagement problems for you?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

Now if your experience of Christ’s encouragement and love means anything to you, if you have known something of the fellowship of his Spirit, and all that it means in kindness and deep sympathy, do make my best hope for you come true! Live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and one spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people’s point of view. Philippians 2:3-4 (Phillips)

You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Stop the Spiral

spiral stain glassThis past month, I began Jennie Allen’s study in Philippians, Get Out of Your Head, with a group at my church. I’m only in the third session, but so far, I’ve learned something new about how our minds can spiral either downward or upward, and that we have the ability to choose which way they go.

Jennie talks about spirals going either up toward God, or down toward the thing we’re fixating on. She says that whatever we find our self most fixed on is the thing we are living for. She suggests we consider how what we spend the most time thinking about affects our friendships, family, work, time, and joy, compared to how thinking about Christ affects them.

She points out that in spirals we begin with an emotion. Our emotions trigger a thought. Thoughts lead to behaviors. Behaviors affect relationships. And behaviors have consequences.

Between emotion and thought, however, we each have the choice of whether our thoughts will spiral down or up. A downward spiral focuses on self. An upward spiral focuses on God.

An upward spiral begins with surrendering our thoughts to God and remembering we belong to him. When we choose thoughts that conform to the mind of Christ, we start to see better behaviors, relationships, and consequences.

Filling our minds with the truth of who God is, who he says we are, and holding those truths up against the thoughts that could spiral us downward, is one way to change the spiral’s direction.

The enemy’s strategy is to flood our thoughts with visions of all that is wrong in this broken, fallen world to the point we don’t even think to look for the positive anymore. We get cynical. But God has an abundance of joy and delight for us, and we’re missing it with arms crossed. Jennie Allen

The first step in changing a downward spiral’s direction is to recognize it, then interrupt it. Do you find that difficult to do?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. Philippians 4:8 (TLB)

You can find my February Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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